Secure email service GhostMail shutting down, in fear of being abused

Graham Cluley

Cluley 250 thumb

GhostMail, a site that offered “military encrypted and self-destructing email accounts”, has announced that it is closing down:

GhostMail in its current form will be closed down as per 1. of September 2016.

Since we started our project, the world has changed for the worse and we do not want to take the risk of supplying our extremely secure service to the wrong people – it’s simply not worth the risk.

In general, we believe strongly in the right to privacy, but we have taken a strategic decision to only supply our platform and services to the enterprise segment.

We hope you understand this decision and we refer to other free services available, as an alternative to our platform i.e. Protonmail.

PRO users will be refunded and contacted directly.

If we take GhostMail’s statement at face value, one assumes that GhostMail is concerned that criminals and terrorists might abuse its services to hide their communications. As GhostMail has no way of perusing its customers’ encrypted conversations it wouldn’t know who would be up to no good, and who wouldn’t.

So, bad news for regular folks who were using GhostMail for their secure, private webmail (switching to alternatives like Switzerland-based ProtonMail sounds like a natural next step) but potentially the company might be able to offer a more focused offering for enterprise customers.

If you are a GhostMail user make sure to download any messages from its servers that you wish to keep before 1st September.

Graham Cluley Graham Cluley is a veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s when he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and is an international public speaker on the topic of computer security, hackers, and online privacy. Follow him on Twitter at @gcluley, or drop him an email.

10 Replies to “Secure email service GhostMail shutting down, in fear of being abused”

  1. They could move to Inky Mall, which offers S/MIME encryption, searchable encrypted emails and you can keep your email address. www.inky.com.

  2. What a shame, I love their service and the Ghostapp, but also understand their dilemma. Interesting to see their enterprise solution….R.I.P. GhostMail! You will be missed…

  3. Did they ever have a warrant canary? Their closing down is suspicious.

    ProtonMail or Posteo are two alternatives.

    ProtonMail unfortunately don't allow the import of email, you must use their dedicated app (not your existing email application), they don't have a calendar, no integrated address book for mobile, small amount of space (purchasing more is expensive), no ability to export your PGP key. The downsides are endless.

    1. I notice that the site tracking warrant canaries has also shut down. As its an EFF initiative, I'm less inclined to conspiracy theories, but still …

  4. TBH, it doesn't come as a surprise that such a service would be abused for nefarious reasons. All it takes is a minority to ruin it for all.

    Without some vetting process, which goes against their philosophy of anonymity, it's impossible to apply a blanket approach and trust everyone.

  5. I think it is because they can't make money from the personal accounts. But the stated reason sounds more righteous.

  6. Sooooo, how can you design an encrypted mail service and not expect it to be used for bad as well as good. That came as a surprise?
    More likely they were leant on. Which also shouldn't come as a surprise after lavabit.

  7. "In general, we believe strongly in the right to privacy, but we have taken a strategic decision to only supply our platform and services to the enterprise segment."

    In other words, we'll now be offering our services exclusively to those the average citizen is seeking to protect himself from…… Swell……

  8. This is a classic,, Ghostmail were given two choices by NSA, open up their security system or close down, Thank you Ghostmail-team for standing up against the tyranny , sorry to see you go.

    The downside with ProtonMail is that they are running their services/storage on Microsoft Azure servers owned by Microsoft and in essence already controlled by NSA, I would prefer a secure mail service that has nothing to do with USA/NSA as in Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo etc.) ProtonMail has also joined forces with Facebook when it comes to handling PGP security keys for "secure" mail traffic, NOW,,,, Facebook gladly share user-information with all kinds of authorities/entities upon request. This is reason enough for me NOT to pick ProtonMail as my next "secure" mail service provider.

    Most of us do not have super-secrets sent or received via email and basically has nothing to hide, BUT, we just want a secure mail service that is not "peeped" on by anyone.

    Today, still on GhostMail, On September 2, 2016, who knows.

    Once again, GhostMail Team, Thank you for standing up against the tyranny , sorry to see you go.

    Best regards:
    Aren.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.




Stay informed!

Join thousands of others by signing-up for the free “GCHQ” newsletter, containing the latest news and tips from security expert Graham Cluley.

Name:

Email:

Yes, I would like to subscribe to email updates from Graham Cluley. I know it’s easy to unsubscribe if I ever change my mind.